Thomas Jefferson UniversitySidney Kimmel Medical College

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Historical Timeline

Elizabeth Blackwell

1847 Elizabeth Blackwell admitted to Geneva Medical College as an "experiment." Elizabeth Blackwell first woman to receive a MD in 1849. Geneva ends "experiment" and admits no women subsequently.

Sarah R. Adamson

1849 Sarah R. Adamson’s application to JMC is rejected;

'…it would be impossible in this country for a lady to mingle with 500 young men…in the same lecture room, without experiencing many annoyances.'

In future, all applications by women are forwarded to Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. Dr. Adamson (Dolley) would be the first American-born woman to earn a MD in 1851.

1850 — 1900

1850 First College to grant women M.D.s

Female Medical College of Pennsylvania founded. Renamed Woman’s MCP and is the last medical College to go coed in 1970 as MCP. Became Drexel University College of Medicine, 2002.
1869 Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (MCP) applies and receives permission to have its women students attend a clinic at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Hospital.  Near riot ensues by hundreds of male medical students from JMC and UPenn who protest the “mixed” class. Joint faculties of the male Colleges publish a “Remonstrance” against women students in clinics.
1870 JMC Catalog” publishes a repudiation of “a mean and malicious falsehood” of a circulated item in Southern newspapers that “Jefferson…will make no distinction of sex or color, among applicants for admission…”
1873 JMC Dean John Biddle responds to a woman applicant in his speech to the students at opening of the College, denying her admission due to her “inferiority of a feebler and more delicate physical organization.”
1891 JMC Hospital establishes College of Nursing (which closes in 1982).

First graduate listed in the Class of 1893 was Mary Armstrong – Class of 1893
1894 JMC Hospital’s Board of Lady Managers established.  Its first project raises funds for a Maternity Clinic.  Organization renamed Women’s Board 1921.

1900 — 1950

1910 Flexner Report reviews all U.S. medical Colleges and gives JMC an A- rating.  Many Colleges that accept women and minorities are closed, and Flexner advises surviving Colleges to merge.
1918 Meeting of the JMC Faculty adopts approval for co-education.  Discussion between faculties of Jeff and WMCP results in 1919 report proposing to share teachers and facilities in an affiliation “without the loss of identity.”  No further action is taken.
1946 Attempt to merge JMC with WMCP is rejected by WMCP Alumnae Association.

1950 — 2000

1950 First non-medical graduate degree granted to a woman from Jefferson College of Graduate Studies was given to Sonia Schorr for her M.S. in bacteriology.
1952 Elizabeth Bogardus, M.D. First woman resident appointed to Jefferson Medical College Hospital.
1959 A federal self-assessment review is distributed to all U.S. medical Colleges. “The Surgeon General’s Consultant Group on Medical Education” (Bane Report) cites Jefferson as the last medical college to deny women entry.

William Goodner
moves to admit women to JMC every year and is rejected annually, until unanimous vote passes September 28, 1959. Board of Trustees approves the recommendation on May 23, 1960.
1961 Admission approved for first nine women to JMC who arrive on campus in September.  Faculty approves for two incoming women “freshmen” to receive assistance in loans and scholarships. June 6, 1961.

Admission approved for nine women to JMC for first class on September 11, 1961
1965 Graduation of first eight women students (one woman had transferred) on June 12 at the Academy of Music.  Nancy Szwec Czarnecki is first woman listed to receive her diploma.
1968 Martha Southard is first woman to be full professor at Jefferson (Radiation Therapy Department, Clinical Division). 
1970 Women’s Equity Action League brings class action suit against every US medical College to address affirmative action and antidiscrimination cases.


Cora LeEthel Christian becomes the first African American woman to be a JMC graduate.
1974 The 1961 Society” is organized at Jefferson by “a group of women medical students.”

Aims include to foster communication among women medical students at various stages of their careers, between doctors and nurses for the better treatment of patients, and to increase enrollment of PA women at JMC.  Open to women and men from all health professions.
1982 Leah M. Lowenstein becomes first woman Dean of JMC and first woman dean of any US coeducational medical College.
1988 Board of Trustees initiates adding a female member from recent alumni; Patricia M. Curtin, Class of 1988, becomes the first such trustee.
1989 First woman JMC Alumni President elected, Nancy Szwec Czarnecki, Class of 1965.

2000 — Present Day

2002 Marion J. Siegman, PhD, becomes first woman Chair of a Basic Science Department (Physiology).
2002 Vijay M. Rao MD, named first woman Chair of a Clinical Department, (Radiology).
2003 Women surpass men in numbers enrolled in freshmen class.
2011 Fiftieth anniversary celebration of admission of women to JMC is held.